The songs on ‘Autumning’ tumble out gracefully, as if they have been given a life of their own. The delicacy with which Subplots play is such that the incremental increase in intensity that is harboured within each song is barely recognisable, until you find yourself absorbed and waiting for something big to happen.
Despite the fact that this album was almost six years in the making, there is no overtly recognisable shift in tone. They have introduced more electronics, sure, but their effortless jamming sound is still present, while the subdued sense of building obsession is also remnant.
Wave Collapse provides the reintroduction, as slightly shocking arcade-like beats lead us into an impressionistic view of their surroundings. Once the electronica fades, the keyboard picks up the slack, creating an atmosphere of minimalism as Boughton sings “Watch the sun stream on the city streets, turning everything to rust,” in a memorable falsetto.
The duo display their virtuosic ability to create a bunch of stories within the one song especially well on The Sunken Wild. It starts off sounding like a kraut-rock ballad and ends insidiously, with grating electronics giving the sense of sullen sci-fi.
Their interest in impressionism seems to be exhibited on Nine Eight with lyrics like “I can’t care less if our time is spent hanging around.” The static undercurrent that runs through this song feels transcendental; as if we’re capable of hearing things we haven’t before like tiny specks of sound in the air. That gives way eventually, though, as the music drops away giving room for a piano and Boughton’s accompanying voice to coo “I’m waiting” on a loop.
End of Print is more self-conscious as the vocals are sometimes overburdened by a wall of sound that is liable to augment and retreat at will. Boughton shows his range, as comparisons with Thom Yorke wouldn’t be out of place.
Epilouge is the finale. As they began with a celebration of their surroundings, they now end by moving away. The music thins out and Boughton murmurs “When I walk away I won’t remember this.”
‘Autumning’ exceeds what has gone before for the band. This isn’t just because their ideas and explorations have become broader and bolder. In the six years since we’ve seen them Subplots have found a happy medium through which they can let their sound spread. What else can you ask for?